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  • September 13, 2011

AM Inbox: Width and height limits of inboxes

The Retail Email Blog monitors the email marketing campaigns of more than 100 top online retailers. Here are highlights from my inbox this morning:

Costco, 9/12 — NEW Online-Only Coupon Offers Start Today!
Certain inboxes have width and height restrictions. For instance, Outlook 2007 won’t display email content that’s wider than 2,200 pixels. That should be kept in mind when designing horizontal-scrolling emails. Similarly, the new Yahoo Mail has a max pixel height of around 4,900 pixels, which I was reminded of when viewing this Costco email. After scrolling and scrolling to the bottom of the email, I was alarmed that their footer appeared to be missing—which means no unsubscribe link and no mailing address for CAN-SPAM compliance. Then I noticed the “This message has been truncated” message from Yahoo. Clicking the “Show Full Message” button revealed the rest of the email, which measured a full 8,900 pixels high. I found the footer intact and couldn’t help but chuckle a little when I saw that it included the statement: “In the past you provided Costco with your email address. Occasionally, you will receive brief advertising announcements regarding special items and services.”

It’s best to be mindful of such height restrictions imposed by mailbox providers. First, for those subscribers who are looking to unsubscribe, if the footer is truncated they may become confused and simply mark the email as spam. Second, as email volume continues to rise, the trend is clearly toward shorter emails, not longer ones. And finally, if you need 6,000 or 9,000 or more pixels to convey your message, that’s a sign that your message isn’t targeted well. Segmentation, dynamic content and personalization gives your emails more punch with less bulk and helps your emails avoid “kitchen sink syndrome.”

Here’s the truncated version (left) and the full email:

Click to view this truncated Sept. 12, 2011 Costco email full-sized Click to view this Sept. 12, 2011 Costco email full-sized

Neiman Marcus, 9/12 — Ralph Lauren Exclusive Fall Video
While about one in 12 retail emails contains an animated gif, video gifs continue to see minimal usage among retailers. The one in this Neiman Marcus email is only the fourth one I’ve seen this year from the retailers I track. Last year I saw video gifs used in six retail emails. See the video gif in action.

Click to view this Sept. 12, 2011 Neiman Marcus email full-sized

Urban Outfitters, 9/12 — Free Shipping: All Day, Every Day.
The “Free Shipping Every Day” movement has gained another supporter: Urban Outfitters. As I said when Nordstrom joined up (see Aug. 30 AM Inbox), free shipping is becoming the status quo. Free returns is becoming the new differentiator.

Click to view this Sept. 12, 2011 Urban Outfitters email full-sized

SUBJECTIVITY SCANNER: Select noteworthy subject lines
Lands’ End, 9/12 — 7 ways to wear your new favorite pants + Enjoy $20 off $75
Coldwater Creek, 9/12 — 100 new ways to LOVE fall!
CB2, 9/12 — the bed everyone's talking about starts at just $599.‏
Target, 9/12 — Patio price cuts. Get 'em while they're hot.
Spiegel, 9/12 — Split-Second Style Savings! EXTRA 20% OFF For 3 Hours, Today Only!
HP, 9/12 — See What's New at HP and Join the Conversation
J. Crew, 9/12 — It's here. Get a copy of Madewell's first-ever catalog.
The Company Store, 9/12 — Changing Leaves. Short Days. The First Chill.
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BROWSE... Archive / Post Categories / Selling Seasons / Topics Covered / Retailers Tracked

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